D3 Neighbors Get Straight Talk on Streets from SFMTA

embarcadero_bikesOne of the many things the Golden Gateway Tenants Association does for its members is attend civic meetings to get information about, and give input on, projects that could affect our neighborhood.

Thanks to SFMTA and Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s office, we regularly learn about street and transit issues at District 3 SFMTA Street Team meetings. It brings together community leaders and representatives from SFMTA on a regular basis so we can learn what’s in the works and give feedback, as well as talk about our concerns. GGTA President Geri Koeppel attended this meeting on Thursday, Aug. 24 along with representatives from North Beach Neighbors, Russian Hill Neighbors and the Union Square Business Improvement District. Peskin’s aide Lee Hepner facilitated.

The first topic discussed was the Columbus Avenue Streetscape and Pedestrian Safety Project, which includes bulb-outs at intersections that shorten the distance needed to cross the road. This has been in the works and debated for a few years now, and we asked for an update on what stage it’s in.

Also, as part of this project, we were told there will be a dedicated bike lane on Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Washington Street. One person asked for more details on the strategy for linking these three blocks with a broader bike route.

Much of the discussion centered on the second topic, concerning Chariot commuter shuttles. SFMTA is working on regulations and a permit program for Chariot and plans to take them to its board on Sept. 5. If approved, the new rules probably would take effect in October. SFMTA has had complaints about the private shuttles regarding safety and accessibility, which the new rules will address. It also is asking Chariot for data on ridership so it can analyze routes. Chariot shuttles are only allowed to stop in white or yellow loading zones; they can’t use Muni stops. However, it was mentioned that they don’t always stop in approved zones, and have been seen driving in “red lanes” marked for transit only.

SFMTA also touched on the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, which intends to create a dedicated, protected bike lane along the increasingly more crowded waterfront. Hepner said that although it will be tied to the long-term seawall improvements, the goal is to make some temporary improvements in the meantime.

In addition, neighborhood leaders all expressed concerns about safety on Muni and the perception that more riders are opting for private transportation such as Chariot, Uber or Lyft, creating a tiered system that could cut into Muni’s budget over time. SFMTA staff are aware of these concerns and assured the group that they’re being addressed.

Koeppel also asked about a rumor that SFMTA plans to eliminate northbound traffic on Drumm Street from Market up to Washington as part of the Better Market Street initiative. Neither Hepner nor SFMTA staff were aware of the plan. Later, we learned that there is no plan to make Drumm southbound-only.

However, there is a change proposed for southbound Drumm: Vehicles won’t be allowed to turn right onto Market Street. Southbound vehicles on Drumm will be forced to turn either right onto California (a new route) or left onto Market Street, as they currently can. 

Neighbors Get Update on Teatro ZinZanni

Night view rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Night view rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Drone view of rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Drone view of rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell

Neighbors living near the site of the proposed Teatro ZinZanni theater and hotel project at the Embarcadero and Broadway got an update on the project on August 7. The big news is: Not much has changed since the previous report, and the project is continuing to move through the city’s planning process.

If you’re just joining us on this issue, the circus dinner theater Teatro ZinZanni was a previous tenant on the waterfront from 2000 to 2011 at Pier 29, but its lease was terminated when the Port of San Francisco decided to host the America’s Cup and subsequently build the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27. The city promised Teatro ZinZanni could return, though, and the Board of Supervisors in 2015 granted Teatro ZinZanni a sole-source waiver to develop the hotel and theater on the seawall lots. It’s now heading into the approvals process and eventually building permits.

Annie Jamison, Executive Director of Teatro ZinZanni, Architect Mark Hornberger of Hornberger + Worstell and Jay Wallace of Teatro ZinZanni’s partner hotel developer, Kenwood Investments, provided details about where the project stands to board members and neighbors representing the Golden Gateway Tenants Association, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association, Gateway Commons, FOGG, and others.

First off, the hotel project has added an additional 12 rooms on the interior of the project since we last received an update, for a total of 192-guest rooms now, but the addition of the rooms will not require a change to the exterior design, streetscape and building amenities, or mechanical systems of the building. Also, the city’s Architectural Review Committee of the Historic Preservation Commission preferred red brick exterior to the gold brick that had been proposed, and square-shoulder windows instead of arched windows and those changes have been incorporated into the project.

The city’s Planning Department at one point seemed unsure of the glass gazebo housing Teatro ZinZanni’s historic spiegeltent, but neighbors were told that hasn’t changed … with one caveat: Wallace said the developers are considering asking for permission to replace the glass roof of the glass-walled gazebo with a metal roof on the top of the glass-walled gazebo in order to reduce the high cost of building it completely in glass. Neighbors were cool to that idea, however, and Wallace said it was “not a deal-breaker.” Even if that happens, he assured everyone the bulk of the building would be glass and would provide a nighttime showpiece thanks to interior lighting.

All other elements of the hotel and theater project were the same as previously presented. The buildings won’t exceed the 40-foot height limit (plus the allowed 15 feet for mechanical equipment which will continue to be screened) and all of the street trees that exist now will remain. Also, it will include a privately managed park with security, and will include a cafe/coffee shop near Broadway and Davis Street and restaurant/bar near Broadway and the Embarcadero. All of these public elements ideally will spur foot traffic and activate the neighborhood.

As we heard previously, there will be no on-site parking, but a valet service will use the roughly 1,000 parking spots within a quarter mile of the site for hotel guests. Theater guests are expected to use ride services, taxis, tour buses or public transportation (the F-line streetcar stops at the intersection and the Embarcadero BART/Muni station is less than a 10-minute walk). Parking for personal bikes will be available, too.

The soil testings, historic review, and studies on traffic, wind and shadows have been submitted to the Planning Department, Hornberger said, and from here, the developers are about 90 days from beginning the public approval process so they can apply for building permits. The goal for the construction timeline is starting in summer of 2018 and finishing by winter of 2019. Developers are aware of the simultaneous sewer work starting this fall on the Embarcadero.

Neighbors asked if there would be noise, light and dust mitigation and were told yes, but the developers don’t have the details yet. All of the specifics will be in a public document disseminated to neighbors prior to construction as part of the project’s mitigated negative declaration anticipated for the project.

Neighbors also asked if public space would be provided to neighborhood groups for meetings and events at no charge, and were told there would definitely be opportunity to schedule conference rooms and meeting spaces for their use. Finding meeting space for large groups has been an issue for neighborhood groups in the past, so this was welcome news.

GGTA, Many Others Oppose Alcohol Sales until 4 a.m. (UPDATED)

img_0022UPDATE: 9/9/17: BCNA reports SB 384 has been “killed” and now addresses a completely different subject. Read more. Thank you to our friends in BCNA who worked diligently with us to oppose this bill.

UPDATE, 9/5/17: California Alcohol Policy Alliance (CAPA) and Alcohol Justice are reporting that Senator Wiener’s 4 a.m. bar bill proposal is effectively dead. Read more here.

The Golden Gateway Tenants Association is strongly opposed to a bill, SB 384, that would allow California cities to permit alcohol sales until 4 a.m.

Sen. Scott Wiener introduced this legislation, and it passed handily—27 to 9 with four not voting—in the Senate on May 31. GGTA and many other neighborhood and grass-roots groups are opposed to this bill, while several business and industry groups support it. Mayor Ed Lee is on record supporting it, so if it passes the Assembly and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, we’re sure that San Francisco will eagerly embrace the opportunity to keep bars and  nightclubs open later.

Why is this a problem?

Continue reading “GGTA, Many Others Oppose Alcohol Sales until 4 a.m. (UPDATED)”

Give Us Ideas for Improving Gloomy Washington Street

washingtonst_garageGateway residents: Our stretch of Washington Street needs your ideas to improve its gloomy appearance.

Walking down Washington Street on the two blocks between Battery and Davis is a bleak visual experience because of high blank walls on both sides for parking garages at One Maritime Plaza and the Gateway.

washingtonst_gateway

The next two blocks of Washington between Davis and the Embarcadero are just as bad on the north side, including the black fence for the Bay Club tennis court. Why does the street look like this?

washingtonst_bayclub

Probably because Washington was an off-ramp for the Embarcadero Freeway when One Maritime Plaza and the Gateway were built in the 1960s. Now the freeway is gone, and times have changed. This street needs to look better. What can be done?

GGTA is looking for creative ideas to improve these four blocks.  One possibility is to ask the Bay Club to decorate the tennis club fence along Washington Street the same way it has already decorated the west side of the fence facing the Golden Gateway Commons condos.

The Bay Club fence facing the Golden Gateway Commons has been decorated.
The Bay Club fence facing the Golden Gateway Commons has been decorated.

Please let us have your opinions. Our GGTA board will talk over the ideas to come up with specific proposals to discuss with the well established civic organization San Francisco Beautiful. We will then open discussions with Gateway management, One Maritime Plaza, and the Bay Club, who would need to agree to suggested improvements.

Let’s hear from you! Please use our online contact form, which goes to our president and other board members, or come and talk to us at one of our First Tuesday socials, which are announced in our member emails and on Nextdoor.com.

Brace Yourself for Noise & Congestion During Sewer Work

ssip_embarcaderrojacksondrumm_large

Starting this fall, Gateway residents, their neighbors and anyone who drives on the Embarcadero will be inconvenienced by 16 months of on-and-off construction and lane closures due to much-needed sewer improvements on the North Shore Force Main. Loud noise is expected throughout the project as well.

We reported in January that these repairs shouldn’t be as disruptive as the work we endured in 2014-15, but it turns out that’s not quite true. (Click here for the earlier article.) At the April 6 meeting of the Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group (NEWAG), a volunteer citizen advisory group to the Port of San Francisco, representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) outlined the upcoming plan, which held a few surprises.

Keep in mind that the North Shore Force Main serves 350,000 residents throughout the city, and this project is absolutely mandatory to keep our sewers working properly. Also, we are grateful to SFPUC for overseeing a project of this scope and for being communicative and responsive. But we want to warn residents, area workers and visitors that they’ll be in for some unpleasant months ahead.

Continue reading “Brace Yourself for Noise & Congestion During Sewer Work”

Sunday Streets in Bayview/Dogpatch April 9

Sunday Streets is coming to Bayview and Dogpatch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, April 9, and it’s a short jaunt via bicycle or from the Embarcadero station on the Muni down Third Street to access it.

Three miles of the Third Street corridor will be shut to vehicles so you can enjoy the neighborhood and its businesses at a leisurely pace on foot. If you haven’t been to Dogpatch, it has numerous charming shops and cafes.

Continue reading “Sunday Streets in Bayview/Dogpatch April 9”

Volunteer and/or Participate in Annual Egg Hunt April 8

All neighborhood children are warmly invited to participate in the annual neighborhood Egg Hunt at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 8 in Sydney G. Walton Square. 

Meet at the fountain shortly before 10:30 a.m. This is an opportunity to meet and socialize with neighbors and to build community spirit. The Egg Hunt is sponsored by the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association. 

Please reply to Julia Bergman with the names and ages of your children if you would like to attend. Remember to bring your Easter baskets with you.

Continue reading “Volunteer and/or Participate in Annual Egg Hunt April 8”

Pier 29 “Makers’ Market” Clears Hurdle

Pier 29. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.
Pier 29. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently gave the green light to a proposal for a retail market of locally made goods at Pier 29. This allows the developer to pursue a final deal with the Port Commission.

Jamestown has proposed filling only the 22,000-square-foot bulkhead, or front space, with retail items by nonprofit SFMade and an “urban brewery and/or winery and/or coffee roastery.”  The exterior of the building won’t be altered, as was indicated in very preliminary plans. The goal as they’ve outlined it is to offer a marketplace for cruise passengers and an amenity for residents. Jamestown also operates Ghirardelli Square, Chelsea Market in New York City and Ponce City Market in Atlanta.

The plan has gotten pushback from some community groups, including the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, which has characterized it as a “mini-mall” and not a wise use of waterfront space. It’s advocated for more recreation on Port parcels, including Pier 29, and has voiced concerns that if Jamestown is given the 15-year lease, it’ll try to co-opt more space in the larger shed building.

However, the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee in support of the market, which will occupy about 20 percent of the space in the Pier 29 building. The letter stipulates that the group supports recreational use for the rest of the pier, but also notes that the plan “would also provide our neighborhood with another attractive option in place of an empty building.”

The Golden Gateway Tenants Association hasn’t taken a position on this issue, but wanted to share what’s happening with our members.

Please read more background about the plan in these articles:

Pier 29 Will Likely Become Home To New Local Maker Showcase (Hoodline, April 26, 2016)

City Hall gives thumbs up to Pier 29 retail (Curbed San Francisco, March 17, 2017)

Community Reps Weigh in on D3 Streets Concerns

Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)
Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has assembled a D3 Street Outreach Team of community representatives to work with MTA in identifying major areas of concern regarding streets and transit.

GGTA President Bill Hannan attended the first meeting on Jan. 12, 2017, and GGTA board member Geri Koeppel attended the second meeting on Feb. 23, 2017. Other attendees included representatives from community benefit districts and neighborhood associations as well as MTA staff.

At the first meeting, attendees participated in a “card-storming” exercise to identify concerns in categories such as transit, parking, coordination and outreach, pedestrian safety, economic impacts and project-specific interests. Bill reported that each person was able to recommend only two main areas of concern, so he brought up restoration of the full 10-Townsend Muni line and pedestrian safety on the Embarcadero. (Note: Since that meeting, MTA announced the elimination of the 10-Townsend bus stop at Folsom and Second streets.)

In the second meeting, participants worked in three teams, with each homing in on two of the categories and discussing them in further detail. Geri was included in a group that talked about safety and street conditions. Each group then reported their discussion, and an MTA employee wrote them all on easel paper.

Following that, every person was able to vote for three issues they believed were the most important. The votes were ranked by first, second and third priority according to blue, red and yellow stickers placed on the easel paper.

The items with the most votes were suggestions to build the Central Subway and to improve traffic signals and timing, with four votes each. After that, three stars were give for three topics: bulb-outs to calm traffic and shorten the distance from curb to curb for pedestrians, more MTA outreach to the public before approving projects, and more enforcement for private shuttle buses, tour buses and TNCs, commonly known as ride sharing companies.

Four items also received two stars, and several received one star. But as one attendee pointed out, a theme emerged:

  • Participants in general wanted to see better regulation and enforcement in several areas ranging from private shuttles and ride sharing to jaywalking and residential parking permits, and
  • Participants were frustrated by the lack of outreach from MTA about projects.

In closing, Peskin’s aide Lee Hepner thanked everyone for their participation and said if anyone has specific concerns they’d like to raise outside of the meeting, he’s available via email. GGTA is going to follow up on this with concerns about the 10-Townsend line and near-term solutions to congestion and safety on the Embarcadero. Also, Deanna Desedas of the MTA thanked everyone and said these meetings will help shape outreach and engagement in other districts. We were told another meeting will be scheduled for about six weeks from this one.

Neighbors Share Concerns at SFMTA Meeting Jan. 12

Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)
Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)

By Bill Hannan, GGTA President

On January 12, 2017, I represented the Golden Gateway Tenants Association (GGTA) and Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association (BCNA) at a District 3 meeting at City Hall of neighborhood group representatives with SFMTA staff members. 

The two-hour meeting was called by Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s aide Lee Hepner. Present were five MTA staffers and about 25 representatives of neighborhood or merchant groups, including Stan Hayes and Howard Wong for Telegraph Hill Dwellers, and a representative of a Russian Hill neighborhood group. Aaron made opening remarks and attended throughout. Continue reading “Neighbors Share Concerns at SFMTA Meeting Jan. 12”